A granite figure of a Dvarapala
Lots which are Art Treasures under the Art and Ant… Read more REGISTERED ANTIQUITY - NON-EXPORTABLE This Dvarapala sculpture graced the home of none other than the world-renowned dancer and arts philanthropist, Ms. Yamini Krishnamurthy. Also hailing from South India, Krishnamurthy was born in 1940 on a full moon night, giving her grandfather the idea to name her Yamini Poornatilaka, meaning "a full mark on the brow of night." Krishnamurthy was born into a family talented in the arts and humanities; her father a Sanskrit scholar, her grandfather a specialist of Urdu poetry, and her sister a talented vocalist. Beginning at the early age of five and trained in bharatanatyam at Rukmini Devi Rundale's Kalakesthra, Krishnamurthy took India's dance scene by storm after her debut in 1957. Uniquely gifted in the arts, Krishnamurthy is well-versed in dance, singing, and the vina. Yamini's magical blend of talent and charisma made her a unique proponent of the classical arts, beginning by popularizing Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, a lively solo dance from Andhra Pradesh that she found was very suited to her temperament. A disciple of many accomplished dancers and schools, the multi-talented artist became the "asthana nartaki," or resident dancer, of the sacred temple Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. She has received many awards for her career and philanthropy, including the Sangeet Natak Academy Award for the performing arts in 1977 and civilian awards of Padmashree in 1968 and Padmabhushan in 2001. She is an artist and innovator beyond a long career of performing, founding the Yamini School of dance and producing two ballets, not to mention also writing an autobiography entitled "A Passion for Dance." An endlessly creative and gifted artist, she is well-known and respected by many around the globe, including the late President S. Radhakrishnan. Krishnamurthy sold, at nominal value, a substantial part of her art collection to the National Museum in New Delhi to ensure their lasting preservation. An inspiration to women and the world of the classical arts, Krishnamurthy participated in a seminar on the contribution of women to Kuchipudi hosted by the Shambhavi School of Dance, representing the first generation of women's domination in the Kuchipudi dance tradition. As she said in her interview with Kuchipudi Vaibhavam in 2010 regarding advice she would give to future dancers, "You must develop fierce dedication WITH detachment," demonstrating a particularly enlightened attitude toward her art.
A monumental granite figure of a Dvarapala


A monumental granite figure of a Dvarapala
South India, Tamil Nadu, circa 10th century
The door guardian standing with his right foot crossed over the left, his left forearm leaning casually on his snake-encircled club and his right palm turned inwards with fingers splayed, wearing a short veshti secured by rudraksha seed belt with lion-head clasp, anklets, rings, sashes encircling his slender hips, and lion-faced armbands, his chest adorned with a flower garland and multistrand necklaces, the face with bulging eyes flanked by plug-disk earrings and looped coiffure with escaping locks surmounted by a conical jatamukuta
78 2/3 in. (200 cm.) high
Collection of the late Miss Saraswathy, acquired before 1977
By descent to Ms. Yamini Krishnamurthy
By way of gift to Mr. N.Chandramouli
Private collection since 2009
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Lot Essay

This particular type of door guardian is associated with Shiva. The present example emphasizes the ascetic aspect of Shiva in particular. The dvarapala wears a belt made of rudraksha seeds and has a voluminous coiffure which indicates the mane of matted locks let partially loose. Although dvarapalas typically guard the doorway to sanctums that contain a linga (non-anthropomorphic symbol of Shiva), this dvarapala image strongly calls to mind the figure of Shiva as Bhikshatanamurti, the mendicant yogi who wanders in the forest enchanting the forest-dwelling girls with his tremendous beauty. Bhikshatana is a particularly popular icon in South Indian art of the Chola period, and he is featured in stone and bronze sculpture along with figures of other forms of Shiva and his family. For further discussion of dvarapala typologies in Tamil art, see Michael Lockwood, Pallava Art, Madras, 2001.

Whereas in subsequent centuries figures of door guardians in South India would become increasingly fearsome, prior to the eleventh century they maintain a benign appearance that characterizes them more along the lines of open-eyed watchmen for the gods, rather than as fierce protectors. Despite his casual stance, garland of flowers (rather than snakes), and relatively docile face, the heavy club encircled by serpents at his side together with his wild hair and the suggestion of sharpened teeth indicates that if danger should approach, the guardian would indeed be a force to be reckoned with.
Closely affiliated with the gods as they were, whether peaceful or ferocious in appearance dvarapalas are warrior-like figures that were prominently displayed at the entrance to temples, and thus they were heralded as precious trophies during times of battle. Carried back to the victor's royal capital, dvarapalas from distant places were installed in temples to display the ruler's power and supremacy. Simply transporting so massive an object would have been an accomplishment on its own. Battles therefore facilitated the circulation both of artworks and artistic styles. Artists in local ateliers were exposed to examples of sculptures brought from distant places, and they at times incorporated some of the foreign stylistic features into their works. The present example has elements that align it more closely with Chalukyan sculpture than with Tamil dvarapalas of the same period. The particular arrangement of the hair, the facial features, and the way in which the tightly woven flower garland traverses the upper chest reveal at least Chalukyan influence if not Chalukyan production.

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